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Medicines used for treating the Mononucleosis Virus

Anyone afflicted with mononucleosis knows that it’s no fun, in spite of its nickname ‘the kissing disease’.

Mononucleosis is a viral disease usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, although the cytomegalovirus (CMV) may also be responsible.

Children are usually only mildly affected by the Epstein-Barr virus, if at all, as they have acquired an immunity from the womb. This immunity, however, wears off in later childhood, leaving the adolescent and young adult vulnerable to infectious mononucleosis.

What are the symptoms of Mono?

The virus is found in saliva and mucus, so it is usually spread through kissing, although sometimes people can pick it up from others’ coughs or handling objects which ill people have touched. Nonetheless, it is much less contagious than the common cold. Usually it will take 4 to 6 weeks after exposure to the virus to develop symptoms. The symptoms include sore throat, muscle weakness, and enlarged lymph glands. Swollen tonsils may develop a whitish yellow coloring. A person can become very fatigued.

A common screening test for mononucleosis is the monospot test, given 2 to 9 weeks after a person has become infected. The doctor will also look for unusual white blood cells, and test one’s liver function.

Over half of the people who contract mononucleosis will develop an enlarged spleen. The spleen is an organ resting under the rib cage on the left side of the body. It regulates red blood cell levels in the body and also produces white blood cells which fight infection. When the spleen is enlarged, it drops below the rib cage, where it becomes more vulnerable to injury.

It is extremely important that the mononucleosis patient avoid pressure on the spleen, and not engage in sports, exercise or physical activity until the doctor advises it is safe, usually after four weeks. A ruptured spleen is very rare, but could be deadly. Most cases of mononucleosis clear up on their own after 2 to 4 weeks, with fevers disappearing after l0 days. For some people, however, it may take 2 to 3 months before they get their normal energy levels back.

What medicines are used for treating Mono?

Antibiotics do not help to fight mono, as this is a viral disease. If the patient definitely has strep throat, then antibiotics can be prescribed for this. Common pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen are useful in containing the pain and the fever, although aspirin should never be prescribed due to the risk of Reyes syndrome.

It has been advised that steroids only be prescribed in the treatment of severe symptoms, although they often help patients to feel better. This is because steroids suppress the immune system. The mono virus can lead to serious diseases and cancer in people with compromised immune systems. The steroids therefore put these people at further risk.

The bad news about mononucleosis is that you caught it in the first place. The good news is that it is likely never to happen again.



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